Research: Gather intelligence on target audiences, social use and competition.
Stop, look and listen – it’s the first step to an effective social marketing strategy. Profile your target audiences and their social characteristics. Monitor their dialog and how preferred platforms are used. Benchmark brand popularity, share of voice and other qualitative and quantitative social metrics for your company and competitors. This is also an opportunity to assess your organization’s existing resources, communities and digital assets that may add value to your strategy.
Objectives: Define objectives aligned with target audiences and social metrics.
Forget about soft objectives like “increasing awareness.” Achieving hard, measurable and targeted objectives is the only way to win over social marketing skeptics who control the budgets within your organization. Segment, select and prioritize target audiences by social status. When possible, align objectives with metrics traceable to financials like ROI, cost-per-lead and sales conversions rather than qualitative measures such as sentiment. There are a variety of free tools (Google Analytics, Social Mention, etc.) and commercial analytical solutions for providing the quantitative tracking data required.
Actions: Create a social marketing strategy with a tactical plan of action.
Once you have established targeted and measurable objectives, you will need to plot a course of action toward achieving the desired outcomes. This section will specify the social marketing tactics, implementation timetables, campaigns and best practices, roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures, and budgets your strategy will require. It will also define your social marketing architecture – the pathways for connecting target audiences and conversations to content hubs, landing pages and conversion points.
Devices: Select platforms by their tactical effectiveness and architectural fit.
An effective strategy is expected to outlive the brief lifespan of today’s popular social platforms. Therefore, your ROAD Map to this point has been technology brand-agnostic. But now is the time to identify, assess and select the appropriate social platforms (Devices) that effectively fit into your current social marketing architecture. If a social network is appropriate, will it be Facebook or LinkedIn? Do you need to build a private customer service forum or will a Twitter account be a better solution? These are the final questions your strategy will answer.